Those of you outside my family who regularly read this irregularly scheduled blog know that I often sing the praises of the PowerPC processor and often rail against the indifference that many distros pay toward this great platform.
Of course the reason for this is simple: I’m a Mac guy from way back — from the circle-the-wagons days — and when I made my conversion to GNU/Linux it was Debian on an iMac. That was a couple of years ago, and during that time I have warmed up to other platforms and other distros; as I’ve written before, I even sing the praises of Dell from time to time (especially on their accessibility when it comes to maintenance, but I digress).
One of the reasons I owned Macs for so long is that I feel the quality of machines that Apple produced (not all, but most) running the PowerPC — especially the New World Macs — have a longevity that deserves any given distro’s attention.
Debian. Fedora. OpenSUSE — that’s who’s still developing for the PowerPC. Ubuntu dropped it with either 7.10 or 8.04, I believe (though I keep getting notes from the Ubuntu folks saying I’m wrong — but the fact remains Ubuntu was very public about dropping PowerPC support during a debate in which I took place and lost).
However, with the latest from Fedora and OpenSUSE for the PowerPC, I believe that this battle to keep the PowerPC relevant is being lost. An update from Fedora 9 to Fedora 10 on an Indigo iMac was all but unworkable and an install of OpenSUSE 11 on the same machine was impossible.
There are other factors involved: For example, both Fedora and OpenSUSE have no Live CD version for the PowerPC — and I understand that this may not be possible — and net installs are something that you’d rather not send a new user (heck, I don’t like doing them).
So while I have Debian back on the Indigo iMac in question and Fedora 9 running faithfully on a Blue & White G3, I have to admit that I’ve lost the patience to babysit the constant care and feeding the PowerPC machines. And, regretfully, I will have to put my PPC advocacy on the back burner as we move forward.
Goodbye, old friend.
So while we at Felton Linuxworks won’t turn away folks who want to convert their New World, pre-Intel Macs to GNU/Linux, I will give them the whole lowdown on how most distros aren’t paying attention to the platform, and why.
(Fedora ambassador Larry Cafiero runs HeliOS Solutions West in Felton, California, and is an associate member of the Free Software Foundation.)